Lector's Notes

Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, C, February 25, 2001

New users of the Web: Click on the underlined Scripture references to see the text of the readings.

First reading, Sirach 27:4-7

Sirach is a very late book, when compared with the books of Moses or the prophets. By this time in Israel's history, the great theological battles about monotheism are over, the kings have come and gone, and the Exile is a distant memory. The prophets have been silent for a long time, and many Jews are living in cities where pagans are the majorities. In these circumstances, writers asked how one should live a good life, what moral and spiritual choices should one make, what behavior is honorable in a religious person?

This is a sober, if not profound, meditation on aspects of a virtuous life. Note the structure: a series of pairs, each pair containing a metaphor and its application:
Shake a sieve to separate husksListen to someone's speech to discern his faults
The furnace tests the potTribulation tests the just
A tree's fruit shows the care it has hadOne's speech shows his state of mind

Express this structure in your proclamation, with pauses and variations in your tone of voice. An attentive listener, by the time you start the third pair, should be expecting another metaphor/application pair.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Paul devotes chapter 15 of this letter to laying out his doctrine of Christ's resurrection, which he here wraps up. We covered it in all the Sundays of February, this year. You'd do well to read all chapter 15 again.

If you do, this passage will stand out as the powerful, dramatic summary. It deserves a powerful, dramatic proclamation. Of all the things ever taught about human life, here is where Christianity distinguishes itself finally. We assert this startling answer to life's most vexing question, "Is that all there is?" and to today's most cynical slogan, "Yada yada yada, then you die." To these we shout a resounding NO! When you quote Paul's quote of Hosea, you should sound like you're taunting death itself.

What is this which is corruptible and about to clothe itself in incorruptibility? The previous verse shows that it is the human body. What does Paul mean when he says "the power of sin is the law?" This refers to his favorite distinction between the law of Moses, as it had come to be understood and practiced by Paul's time, and the gospel. Paul said elsewhere, in effect, that the law just set a standard which no one could meet. And if only the law stands between us and God's righteousness, we're hopelessly condemned. But God's grace, which we accept by faith in Jesus, gives us an undeserved but real share in God's righteousness, so that we're really saved.

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Last modified: Thu Feb 8 20:56:32 CST 2001